If someone accuses you of rape or sexual assault in Minnesota, you may be confused when the police or prosecutors call it something different. Minnesota uses the term “criminal sexual conduct” for sex crimes and subdivides it into five categories. First degree is the most serious crime with the most severe consequences, fifth degree the least serious charge with the lowest penalties.

How is the charge decided?

Whether something is considered first, second, third, fourth or fifth degree depends upon the following:

  • What was allegedly done.
  • The age of the person who allegedly did it.
  • The age of the person it was allegedly done to.
  • The difference between their ages.
  • The relationship between them. If the person accused was in a position of responsibility toward the victim, it is considered a more serious offense.

What sentences can be given?

These are the maximum sentences that could be given:

  • First degree: A minimum of 12 years and a maximum of 30 years imprisonment
  • Second degree: A minimum of seven and a half years and a maximum of 25 years
  • Third degree: A minimum of five years and a maximum of 15 years
  • Fourth degree: A maximum of 10 years
  • Fifth degree: A maximum of one year

If there was no penetration of any kind, then the charge can only be fourth or fifth degree. Previous convictions could increase the sentence given if found guilty. There will also be fines imposed. Whatever charge is brought against someone, they are likely to be put on the sex offenders’ registry if convicted.

If you have been accused of criminal sexual conduct in Minnesota, seek an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand your defense options and protect your future.